Staff Perceptions of Homeless Veterans' Needs and Available Services at Community-Based Outpatient Clinics

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Abstract

This study surveyed staff at rural Veterans Affairs community-based outpatient clinics (CBOCs) about the unique characteristics and service needs of rural homeless veterans. Results reported are based on descriptive analyses of responses from 254 staff members from 30 CBOCs who reported coming into contact with homeless veterans. Substance use (57%), unemployment (53%), and mental illness (45%) were considered the primary causes of rural homelessness. Staff perceived that, compared with urban homeless veterans, rural homeless veterans have less access to needed services and, because of aspects of rural culture, are more self-reliant. Staff cited dental care, substance-use treatment, transportation, and job training as significant needs among the rural homeless population. In general, staff perceived that rural CBOCs had greater availability of health care services but that non-VA community programs had greater availability of nonhealthcare resources for rural veterans (e.g., job training, clothing).

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